Inaugural Stringers Symposium Draws Beginners and Veterans
Last April, I participated in one of the best things the stringing business has ever seen — the first Grand Slam Stringers Symposium, which was held at the T-Bar-M Resort in Texas.
This event was the brainchild of 2007 RSI Stringer of the Year Tim Strawn, the founder and operator of gssalliance.com. Tim’s website sells quality tools and related products for stringers, but the real draw is a very educational message board that draws postings from new stringers to seasoned technicians traveling on the professional tour.
GSS hosted the symposium to bring stringers together in what was a great learning environment. Seminars covering a wide range of topics, and scheduled so that attendees could participate in every session if they wanted, were often “hands on,” with plenty of individual attention. The symposium offered a huge amount of information, for beginners and veterans alike.
But learning was not limited to the seminars, as both attendees and seminar leaders had plenty of chances to interact. “It was a fantastic opportunity to participate in hands-on seminars conducted by some of the world’s most knowledgeable people associated with the manufacturing, customizing and stringing of tennis racquets,” says Ed Matheson of Atlanta.
“I was very pleased with the success of the first symposium and believe it gave us enough momentum to take it to the next level in 2008,” says Strawn. “The chemistry between the seminar leaders was second to none. Many of the seminars will be expanded and new ones added for 2008. We’ll have plenty of vital topics to interest technicians of all experience levels.”
Both leaders and attendees came from around the globe. “I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience,” says Simon Jordan of the United Kingdom. “Everything was presented in a friendly, open manner.”
During the seminar, Jordan took and passed the test for Master Racquet Technician certification. “When I returned to the UK, I placed a small report in the local press on the symposium and passing the MRT,” he says. “This has increased my stringing business enormously. I feel the symposium was well worth it — I learned a huge amount, and gained invaluable experience. I will definitely be looking at attending future symposiums.”
Seminar topics included “Basic String Stuff” led by MRT John Gugel of Winter Park, Fla. Tim Strawn teamed with MRT Richard Parnell from Spain and Roger Dalton from England to lead “The Art of Working with Natural Gut.” Dalton of Bow Brand Strings provided a behind-the-scenes look at the labor-intensive manufacturing process of natural gut. I led the “Advanced Stringing and Service Review,” which helped experienced stringers fine-tune their skills and prepare for the MRT exam.
Grant Morgan provided an inside look at life on the Pro Tour with “ATP/WTA Tour Stringing — Wimbledon to Davis Cup.” Morgan was the RSI Stringer of the Year in 2006 and worked as Andy Roddick’s stringer for several years. For 2008, Morgan will lead a seminar on “Beginning Stringing and Racquet Service.”
Mark Gonzales of Alpha Sports led two classes, “Equipment Selection — Know Before You Buy” and “Machine Repair and Maintenance.” For those starting a new business or growing an existing one, I led the “From Garage to Storefront” session, which covered everything from developing a business plan to marketing your business.
Wilson’s Principal Designer and Global Tour Services Director, Ron Rocchi, led a captivating session called “From the Manufacturer’s Perspective,” which included video of the racquet manufacturing process, from developing the blueprints to the final cosmetics. For the 2008 symposium, Rocchi will be joined by Joel Disbro, Wilson’s Tour Stringing Manager. They’ll not only show the racquet manufacturing process, but they’ll add a hands-on opportunity to experience the process, along with a unique look at tour stringing.
John Gugel also led an in-depth seminar on “Racquet Customization,” a topic that will also be expanded for 2008. Other new seminars planned for 2008 include “Stringing and Service for Squash and Badminton” led by Roger Dalton. Gugel will also lead a seminar on “RacquetTracker,” a software program he developed to keep track of clients and work orders.
More seminars are slated for the 2008 Symposium, which is scheduled for October in Orlando. The USRSA will join this year as the title sponsor. If you are serious about your business, you can’t afford to miss this event.
For more information about this event in 2008, watch upcoming issues of RSI or visit www.gssalliance.com.
See all articles by Bob Patterson
About the Author
Bob Patterson , the founder of the RacquetMAXX customization service, is a Master Racquet Technician with more than 20 years of experience. He was RSI's Stringer of the Year in 2005. He is Special Projects Manager for Tennis Industry magazine.